Open up any GQ or Men’s Health and you’ll find roughly the same thing: splashy spreads full of workout tips, expensive clothes, and a slew of healthy-looking, well-coiffed men. The ads and many of the artices in these magazine’s are looking to sell readers on something–a certain lifestyle, or a specific product–and the busy layouts and glossy pages reflect that.
For U.K. publication CALMzine, however, the mission is different. Published by male suicide prevention nonprofit Calm, the men’s lifestyle magazine aims to convey the message that it’s okay for men to talk about sensitive things like mental health and thoughts of suicide. When Calm decided to redesign the publication, they wanted a look that not only conveyed its mission, but also set the magazine apart from other lifestyle magazines.
“Existing men’s magazines are glossy, have high production values and transmit the message of ‘if you buy this magazine—and buy the products in it–it will change your life,'” says Kevin Braddock, the editor of CALMzine. “Calm is not aspirational. It’s encouraging readers to be honest about our lives and our feelings. So in that way, it’s really doing the opposite of what a publication like GQ does.”
To create a design that echoed that, Braddock, CALMzine designer Silvina De Vita and It’s Nice That art director Jamie McIntyre, who led the redesign, reached out to illustrators, photographers, and graphic designers for contributions, all on a volunteer basis. Writers and creatives made content that raises awareness about mental health and suicide, but the magazine is also filled with stories about sports, music, books, and other areas of interest for young men.
The result feels more like a zine than a men’s lifestyle magazine or a publication on mental health. Bold lines, bright colors, and the cut-and-paste aesthetic is intended to make it feel approachable, Braddock says. “It’s the idea that anyone can make one. It’s in the design DNA of zines that its not intimidating to pick up as it might be with something David Beckham on the cover.”
Only available in the U.K., CALMzine can be found at selectop Topman shops. You can also check it out on the Calm website.